National recovery plan for the Tallong Midge Orchid (Genoplesium plumosum)

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, May 2002
ISBN 0 731 36457 0

6. Proposed Recovery Objectives, Actions and Performance Criteria for 2001-2006

The overall objective of this Recovery Plan is to ensure that all natural populations are stable or increasing in size.

Specific Objective 1: Accurately determine the size and extent of known populations and survey potential habitat

Action 1.1: Undertake accurate counts of flowering plants within known populations.

Further survey work is needed to more accurately determine the size of the known populations. The first stage of this process was to record the number of flowering plants in a favourable season within each population. This task was undertaken in March 2001. However, due to the late stage of flowering of some Midge Orchids found during the 2001 survey, there was difficulty in confidently determining the identification of some individuals. This difficulty was due to the presence of other very similar Midge Orchids flowering and fruiting at the same time as the Tallong Midge Orchid. Thus, it is desirable this survey work be repeated in the next favourable flowering season to confirm the accuracy of the previous count.

Performance Criterion 1.1

Within two years, providing suitable conditions are experienced in this period, accurate counts (based on two seasons of survey) of flowering plants for known populations will be obtained.

Action 1.2: Survey additional sites of potential habitat.

Further surveys are desirable in an effort to locate additional populations, and to determine the limits of the range of the species. Such surveys should be conducted in seasons when recorded populations are known to have many individuals flowering. An assessment of any threats operating at any new populations will be made during this process. The Tallong Midge Orchid Recovery Team will liaise with the Pterostylis sp. 15 (Botany Bay) Recovery Team who are conducting surveys at Kurnell Peninsula. It is expected that the P. sp. 15 Recovery Team will be able to include searches for the Tallong Midge Orchid when they are conducting their surveys.

Performance Criterion 1.2

Within three years, providing suitable conditions are experienced in this period, all accessible additional sites of potential habitat will have been surveyed.

Action 1.3: NPWS continue to advocate that adequate surveys of sites of proposed developments or activities should be undertaken.

Surveys should be conducted within any potential habitat that has not already been surveyed as part of Action 1.2 and is likely to be affected by a proposed development or activity (sensu EP&A Act), or will be affected by an application to clear native vegetation. Potential habitat is as described in section 3.4.

The presence of individuals of the Tallong Midge Orchid on known sites is highly dependent on seasonal conditions. Therefore, to be confident about the presence or absence of the Tallong Midge Orchid on a site of potential habitat it is essential to undertake the survey at the correct time of year (and preferably in a known good flowering season). Whether survey conditions are appropriate is best determined by monitoring the timing and extent of flowering at the known sites.

NPWS advises that if sites have been surveyed at the correct time of year and in a known good flowering season, and no Tallong Midge Orchid flowering plants or Genoplesium leaves are found, then it is reasonable to conclude the species is not present. If no flowering plants are found but Genoplesium leaves are present, then it will be necessary to re-survey in a subsequent season to identify the species previously present in leaf only. This procedure is necessary as in the Tallong area several Genoplesium species co-occur. If surveys for the Tallong Midge Orchid are conducted in potential habitat at the wrong time of year or in a poor flowering season, then one could not safely conclude that the species was absent from the site. In such circumstances, a precautionary approach should then be taken by consent and determining authorities in that they should ensure protection of any potential habitat. Alternatively, approval should be delayed until such time as correctly timed surveys can be conducted.

Performance Criterion 1.3

NPWS can demonstrate that it has advocated to Consent Authorities that all developments or activities likely to affect potential habitat of the Tallong Midge Orchid should have surveys conducted in an appropriate flowering season prior to the granting of approval or consent.

Specific Objective 2: Monitor known populations

Action 2: Monitoring

Selected sites will be monitored (initially annually) by the NPWS, with the assistance of the Recovery Team members, to increase the ecological knowledge of the species and establish the extent of year to year variation in the size of the observable population.

It is important to intensively monitor some sites to determine the conditions which induce flowering, the proportion of the population that flowers each year, and through this obtain an estimate of the total population size. The extent of browsing will also be recorded during this monitoring.

Performance Criterion 2

A monitoring program, including detailed demographic studies using the three established permanent plots, will have commenced within one year and conducted annually for the life of this Plan.

Specific Objective 3: Ensure known sites are afforded medium and long term protection

Action 3.1: Promote the establishment of medium and long-term protection of all known sites.

The medium and long-term security of all known sites is a major priority in protecting this species. The NPWS will promote with landowners the development of formal protection mechanisms for all sites. Measures to ensure the medium term protection of this species could include registering the areas as Wildlife Refuges or participating in the Land for Wildlife Scheme. Options for long-term formal protection of these sites include Joint Management Agreements between NPWS and public authorities, either Voluntary Conservation Agreements or Property Management Plans between NPWS and private landowners, and Property Management Agreements between DLWC and private landowners.

Performance Criterion 3.1

Within five years NPWS will have promoted medium and long term protection for all known sites.

Action 3.2: Erection of signs to protect Tallong Midge Orchid habitat within roadside vegetation.

The NPWS will liaise with MSC regarding the erection of signs along all sections of roadside vegetation that contain the Tallong Midge Orchid. The signs will identify the vegetation as significant roadside vegetation and instruct that work should not to be undertaken within the vegetation without the approval of MSC in consultation with NPWS.

Performance Criterion 3.2

Within two years signs are erected to identify all sections of roadside vegetation which contain the Tallong Midge Orchid.

Action 3.3: NPWS to recommend to MSC the need for comprehensive impact assessment of proposed developments or activities.

Given the rarity of the Tallong Midge Orchid, NPWS recommends that consent and determining authorities take a precautionary approach and assume that any likely direct or indirect negative impact on a population resulting from a proposal being carried out will be significant (sensu s.5A of the EP& A Act). In those cases where it is deemed there is likely to be a significant impact the proponents of such developments and activities will have to provide a Species Impact Statement and the concurrence or consultation requirements of s.79B and s.112C of the EP&A Act will also take effect. Discretion in fulfilling this recommendation will clearly be necessary in certain cases, such as where the affected population is extremely small, or the development is very minor. The advice of the NPWS should be sought in such instances.

Performance Criterion 3.3

NPWS can demonstrate that it has advised MSC that Species Impact Statements should be prepared for all proposed developments and activities that are likely to have a direct or indirect negative impact on a population of the species.

Action 3.4: NPWS to request MSC to include an advisory note recording the presence of occurrences of this species on Section 149 Certificates for the relevant properties.

Although most of the current landowners are aware, and are supportive of the protection of these species on their land, it is important that future potential purchasers of the properties are also made aware of the presence of these species at an early stage. Council staff also change over time and it is important that MSC is automatically alerted to the presence of the Tallong Midge Orchid should any Development Applications be submitted which might affect it. It is important that MSC record the presence of any additional populations that may be discovered in the future.

Performance Criterion 3.4

Within one year NPWS has requested MSC to record the presence of populations of the Tallong Midge Orchid on s.149 Certificates for the relevant properties.

Action 3.5: NPWS to request DLWC to dedicate the Crown land site as a reserve for Environmental Protection

To improve the long term protection of the Tallong Midge Orchid on the Crown land site, NPWS will request DLWC to investigate the possibility of dedicating the area as a reserve for Environmental Protection under the Crown Land Act, 1989. Currently the Crown land site is reserved for public recreation, preservation of native flora and preservation of flora.

Performance Criterion 3.5

Within one year NPWS has requested DLWC to dedicate the Crown land site where the Tallong Midge Orchid occurs to a reserve for Environmental Protection.

Action 3.6: Identification and nomination of Critical Habitat.

The NPWS will consider the benefits of nominating Critical Habitat and, if appropriate, make a recommendation to the Minister regarding what area should be listed.

Performance Criterion 3.6

Within five years the NPWS will have made a recommendation to the Minister regarding what area, if any, should be declared Critical Habitat.

Specific Objective 4: Involve the community in the conservation of the Tallong Midge Orchid

Action 4.1: Prepare pamphlet describing the species, its management and the monitoring program.

Landholders and adjoining land managers in particular would benefit from information about the identification and ecology of the Tallong Midge Orchid. A pamphlet will be prepared to provide this information, as well as information about appropriate management of the habitat of the species. This pamphlet will be distributed to all landholders with populations of the species on their property and to other interested parties.

Performance Criterion 4.1

Within one year of the approval of this Plan a pamphlet will be produced and distributed to relevant landholders and other interested persons.

Action 4.2: Involve local community members in detecting when the species begins flowering.

It has proven difficult to predict the precise flowering period and to know when to conduct survey and monitoring programs. Local residents could assist the proposed survey and monitoring program by regularly visiting known sites prior to the expected flowering period to check for the presence of flower buds or the commencement of flowering. NPWS could then be kept advised of the situation and this would enable the amount of time available for survey/monitoring to be maximised.

Performance Criterion 4.2

Within one year of the approval of this Plan at least one local Tallong resident has agreed to monitor the sites to determine when flowering begins.

Action 4.3: Provide opportunities to landowners to be involved in monitoring and recovery efforts.

Interested landowners that have the Tallong Midge Orchid on their property will be encouraged to participate in recovery and monitoring activities on their property.

Performance Criterion 4.3

Within one year of the approval of this Plan all landowners and managers have been informed of the recovery and monitoring program on their property and invited to participate.

Action 4.4: NPWS and the Recovery Team to foster the inclusion of the conservation of the Tallong Midge Orchid in the education program at the Tallong Campus of Santa Sabina College.

The Tallong campus of Santa Sabina College is in an excellent position to use this species as a case study in teaching students about some of the issues relating to the conservation of threatened species. The college will be encouraged to include this species as a part of the curriculum for students who visit the centre.

Performance Criterion 4.4

Within three years the Santa Sabina College, Tallong Campus has included the Tallong Midge Orchid conservation program as part of the Centre's education program.

Specific Objective 5: Maintenance of an effective Recovery Team

Action 5: NPWS to continue to hold Recovery Team meetings at least annually.

Recovery Team meetings will be required on a regular basis (at least annually) to review progress of the recovery program and ensure all interested parties are fully informed. If significant new populations are found on land under different ownership, then the new owners are likely to be invited to participate on the Recovery Team.

Performance Criterion 5

A Recovery Team meeting is convened by NPWS at least annually for the life of this Plan.